Delegate Name: Micaela Story
As the world continues to navigate the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of the opioid crisis, or what many countries refer to as the opioid epidemic, are returning to the spotlight. Around 16 million individuals around the world have had or suffer from opioid use disorder. According to the 2022 UNODC World Drug Report, opioid use has the most significant gender disparity with 85% of users identifying as male. In addition, 77% of drug-related deaths in 2022 were attributable to opioids. With the increasing demand for opioids, many suppliers have begun supplementing their products with dangerous synthetic substances such as fentanyl or tramadol. The illicit production and trade of opioids have become nothing short of a criminal enterprise, causing the crackdown on the opioid trade to become increasingly difficult. There has also been a significant lack of global consensus regarding the public policy on medical opioid use.
Within the past ten years, prescription opioid use in France has more than doubled, however, a report from the European Pain Federation has found no evidence of a “prescription opioid epidemic”. Although the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products concluded the situation is not as dire as in other parts of the world, France has remained cautious and has methods to combat addiction in place. Since 1995 has allowed all doctors regardless of training or specialization to prescribe buprenorphine to combat opioid addiction. As a highly effective opioid addiction treatment, buprenorphine reduces the craving for opioids and is not addictive itself. Within four years of implementing this policy, overdose deaths including those for heroin had declined by 79%. The socialized healthcare system in France has made treatment for addiction to several substances, including opioids, very accessible to citizens across the country.
France plans to continue with the progress made by the National Action Plan on Addictions and take into account the evaluations and outcomes of the plan in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. France will continue to coordinate its national drug policy through Interministerial Mission for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviors (MILDECA) and offering addiction treatment through the socialized healthcare system. France looks forward to collaborating with its allies to further the availability of addiction treatment and minimize the distribution of illicit opioids.